Minnesota Madness - BJM vs. Blue Note70th

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Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By cray mccally (Craybee) on Monday, March 30, 2009 - 06:27 pm: Edit Post

Nice abundance of shows here in Minneapolis this weekend. I was lucky enough to catch a relatively happy and mesmerizing Anton Newcombe lead his reunited(original members Matt and Ricky have rejoined as has tambourine man Joel Gion)Brian Jonestown Massacre through a 3 hour and 15 minute marathon romp through the darker and seamier sides of psychedelia. From Moby Grape and Quicksilver style 60's dragouts to Jesus and Mary Chain and Bauhaus type Britpop psych tunes the BJM was clicking on many cylinders. Playing to a packed house, Newcombe and company started with an almost Burrito Brothers type sound for the for the first couple songs before second vocalist Matt Hollywood laid into a dirty groove that had the audience really moving for the first time. With up to 5 guitars on some songs it took awhile for the band to really catch fire but by the time they broke out songs from their late 90's- early 00's heyday halfway through the set the band and crowd were definitely locked in. Yet the band showed they were not just resting on their past as Newcombe debuted tunes from both an upcoming BJM album as well as a solo album,and he also told of another set of albums he has been working on in Iceland with a DJ and live drummer,with he and the drummer playing live while the DJ deconstructs 80's and 90's pop tunes. The second half of the show got weirder and darker as the songs got more ragged and jammed out, culiminating in a 15 minute ride through the ozone during the encore to a throbbing, droning bass line that sounded like Barrett era Pink Floyd. Holding the whole thing together was their drummer who played hard every song and kept things tight whenever the whole thing started to devolve into a trainwreck. A great show, a fun night,and hopefully they can keep it together but with Newcombe's singular vision and personal peculiarities that remains to be seen.

On the opposite end of the musical spectrum I saw the Blue Note Records 70th Year Tour at the gorgeous Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. Led by New York based pianist Bill Charlap and his drummer, the mighty Lewis Nash, the band was fromted by Nicholas Payton on trumpet, Steve Wilson on alto and flute, and Ravi Coltrane on tenor sax. Rounding out the band were bassist Peter Washington whose rumbling runs and off- kilter phrasings reminded me of Phil's playing in certain passages and the tasteful guitar work of Peter Bernstein. Playing a sweet old Washburn hollow body, his less is more solos were great in the way he tied into the main motifs of the songs, and the tones and rhythms that he used during the horn/sax solos really complemented their work especially in collaboration with Charlap's playing.

Starting the set with the Horace Silver composition The Outlaw and then into saxophonist Joe Henderson's Inner Urge, Wilson's alto work and Payton's trumpet leads really shined through. Shifting gears into Herbie Hancock's Dolphin Dance, Charlap's piano work alternated from some very aggressive, and percussive playing to some more spaced out and gentle interludes. The set hit its first of many unreal solos during Coltrane's work on the Wayne Shorter piece United from Shorter's early days playing in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Following a crisply played drum and bass intro, Coltrane threw his whole body into Shorter's piece - bending low at the knees and leaning into his horn or playing up on his tippy toes when the scales ascended.

McCoy Tyner's A Search For Peace opened with a dramatic chord inversion by Charlap and then some nice ensemble playing by the horn/sax section. Returning to another Blakey tune, this one composed by pianist Cedar Walton, Nash and Charlap showed that they really knew each other's styles well as they led the band into a heavily rhythmic and forceful pushing of the envelope during this song. When Payton, Wilson, and Coltrane locked down the horn riffs you could really sense the power and subtleties that this group brought to their set.

Encoring with Lee Morgan's Party Time, the group each had one last solo as individuals and Wilson's alto work was stellar as was Bernstein's guitar work. Grouping clusters of notes around some dramatic chord changes, Bernstein showed you don't always need power and volume to be a powerful lead player. Truly an amazing assemblage of talent, I really enjoyed this set of music as much as any I've seen in the last couple years. From their sharp suits and reverence for jazz history, this band really brought the goods and I highly recommend going if you get the chance. My friend and I from work used our school I.D.s for two for one tickets during the rush, and were seated right behind the conductor from the Minnesota Symphony and his family - $30 for two 7th row tix - sweet!

Unfortunately I had to work Friday and Saturday night so I had to miss Friday nights PBS and Karl Denson show, and the Information Society reunion Saturday. Tonite Bob Mould is previewing his upcoming album on the 30th Anniversary of Husker Du's first show, maybe Grant Hart will show up and they'll just pound the shit out of each other then and there and settle their feud about whose owed royalties. Fucking great year for shows here in Minneapolis, next up for Craybee is Scofield's Piety Street Band on the 12th, which will be the third time George Porter has been here in a 5 weeks!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Calypso Frelimo (Dave_c) on Monday, March 30, 2009 - 11:04 pm: Edit Post

Nice review, man!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By _ (Verve13) on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - 08:59 am: Edit Post

Great review, Cray! Really nice read thanks for sharing.

BJM played here last night and I was planning on going but couldn't swing it. Your review really makes me wish I went. That Blue Note tour swings through here next week and I'm hoping to make it.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By cray mccally (Craybee) on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - 03:11 pm: Edit Post

Thanks Dave and Verve - Hey Verve, The Jayhawks were just announced as the headliner for a festival here in Minneapolis the weekend after the 4th of July. Olson, Louris, Perlman, O'Regan, and Karen Grotberg on keys is supposed to be the lineup. Go hit that Blue Note show, that's some pretty rarefied air that band is reaching! BJM is supposed to do a late summer tour also, so maybe you can hit themup then. Anton has quit drinking and given up the hard drugs so is pretty clean and focused, fuck can that guy write a great song!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Lance Newberry (Heathentom) on Monday, April 06, 2009 - 04:03 am: Edit Post

Nice review.

I saw the Blue Note band in January and thought the were very good. I'm a huge Payton fan and I love Charlap too. I'm not so high on Ravi Coletrane, but anything with Charlap & Nicholas Payton is something I'm going to see, and it was worth it.

It's good to see they're still out there.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By waterhill (Wonka) on Monday, April 06, 2009 - 10:46 am: Edit Post

nice review! I caught the blue note 70th annv here in town just a few weeks ago. agreed, that charlap, payton and nash bring the heat! def worth checking out, great time. I was a little disappointed with ravi coltrane ... I dunno exactly why, maybe it was because of the name I had bigger expectations for him, but that night he really didn't get "out there" or extend anything. payton just blew the place apart, nash worked up a mean groove and charlap was mezmorizing. ravi, thought, just didn't do it for me.

but again, def worth checking out! great night of music and I loved how they introduced each tune before they played it so that you really noticed the differences between the composers.